CHRISTON CAFE: JAPANESE RELIGIOUS-THEMED RESTAURANT FAVORED BY MANA.
** For more about bizarre Japan theme restaurants, including exclusive photos Christon Cafe and more, check out La Carmina’s book Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo. My TV fixing and hosting company La Carmina & The Pirates has filmed multiple episodes about unique, quirky Tokyo restaurants; email us for more info.
On a frigid day like today, I like to light a clove and stroke my cat and ponder the aesthetic similarities between Gothic Lolita and Goth. Intriguing, isn’t it, how the Japanese style/subculture adopts the trimmings of Christian imagery without the blasphemous implications. A partial explanation: the religion is nearly as rare in Japan as Shintoism in America. Christianity was heavily banned until the Meiji restoration of 1873; today, only 1-6% of the population identifies with the faith. And so, Japan has legions of Gothlolis who wear crucifixes and rosaries and pose for photos in cathedrals – not to provoke, but because the imagery charms and amuses them.
Hence the existence of the Christon Café. This improbable Jesus-themed restaurant is so popular that it now has locations in Shinjuku, Shibuya, Osaka, and Fukuoka. Each cavernous location is piped with organ music and outfitted with stained-glass windows, Medieval altars, and church artifacts pilfered from France. Those who yearn for the intimacy of confession can request a booth with red velvet curtains. The kitsch-factor is through the vaulted roof. Weeping, bloody statues of Christ? A gigantic, scowling gargoyle at the bar? Candlelit tables and menus shaped like crucifixes? Done and done.
Funny, isn’t it, how we lust for sushi – while at Japan’s trendy Alice in Wonderland, Vampire, and Christon Cafés, the cuisine is what we’d call standard Italian/French fused with Asian. Christon’s cocktails include “Small Devil” (strawberry cream and cassis) and “Joan d’Arc” (vodka, ginger ale, raspberry). Dishes start at $8, and portions are small by American standards. Some selections: Peking duck rolls, shrimp spring rolls, Caesar salad, and salmon/spinach pasta. Sinners may want to consider the “God-hand-made humberger.”
You’ll often see Gothic Lolitas perched on the leather couches. Christon is also a popular wedding spot; it’d suit the Gothloli-themed ceremony I described in this post. EGL-designer Mana would approve. Every year, he hosts an exclusive Moi-Même-Moitié event at the one of the Tokyo locations (only 200 tickets are sent out to fans who spent more than 20,000 yen ($185) in his shop). Mana escorts you across the road, arm in arm, and presents you with a blue rose. Inside, you wait to be taken behind a curtain where you can shake his hand and have a photo signed. Judging from the spellbound faces, Mana is more of a deity to his devotees than any of the icons in the restaurant!
Shinjuku Address: 8F Oriental Wave, 5-17-13 Shinjuku. In east Shinjuku, on Yasukuni Dori just west of Hanazono Shrine. Nearest station: Shinjuku.
Shibuya Address: 2-10-7 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku
Osaka Address: 2-5 Shinsaibashi, Osaka. Opaque Osaka Building, 6th floor. Just north of the Ebisu-bashi bridge, on the left side of the Shinsaibashi-suji covered arcade.
Fukuoka Address: Grand Bldg 1F, B1 2-9-5 Daimyo, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Open: Varies (usually 5pm-5am, 5pm-11pm Mondays). Menu English/Japanese. Reservations necessary. There might be a cover charge of ¥300 ($2.85).